A properly aged beer is something that cannot be recreated without the hard work of actually being patient and waiting it out. It is incredible to taste the differences in a beer even just a year later. So, without further ado…
First of all, there are no rules. There are only suggestions, or even just hypotheses. The fact is, the exact same chemical changes happen within every bottle of beer as time progresses. Depending on some specific factors (alcohol content, hop content, beer style, etc) this chemical change can be called spoilage in one beer, or maturation in another. This is why guidelines exist for aging beers. Certain guidelines are generally true for most beers, some are not. The real truth, however, is that we all taste and perceive flavor differently. This is the biggest reason why aging rules vary so much. The effects of aging a beer are nearly always the same, but whether the effects are something that you want is another factor. That said, here are some things to consider: (more…)
One week into 2013 and I finally took the time to look back at 2012. I thought I’d reshare several of the most read posts over the past year. I hope you all enjoy this look back!
An ode to supporting all the businesses here in Las Vegas that promote craft beer across the valley!
The Great Las Vegas Festival of Beer
A recap of the 2nd annual Vegas Festival of Beer. Worth reading up considering the 3rd Festival of Beer is coming up soon!
Hooked on Hops at Tenaya Creek
Last year we held a special food pairing at Tenaya Creek with their Imperial Stout and Goran’s gingerbread stout cake!
An Updated Guide to Aging Beers
Worth reading through a few times if you have any interesting in understanding how to age beers.
Worth reading through a few times to understand the importance of drinking beer as fresh as possible.
Kind of contradicts the aging article huh? Nope. Read both and learn why!
Bacon and IPA Spaghetti
Another one of Goran’s food recipes featuring beer!
The Las Vegas Downtown Brew Festival
After the success of the Great Las Vegas Festival of Beer, 2012 saw the premiere of the Downtown Brew Festival!
What The Craft Beer Scene Can Learn From The Metal Scene
Last year saw craft beer fans searching for the most obscure breweries possible, while calling out the pioneers as overrated. Armando shared his thoughts here.
Danny is a Ninja
Right at the tail end of the year, we launched a video mini-series reviewing some beers. The first iteration is New Belgium’s La Folie. We have since added Dogfish Head 120 Minute IPA, and Stone Vertical Epic 12.12.12
If you read my post on glassware, then you should be aware of how important your sense of smell is in affecting your flavor perception. Going along the same lines of of proper tasting techniques, I thought I’d expand a bit further and talk about the flavors that you don’t want to taste.
Simply put, off flavors are the wrong flavors, the bad flavors, the flavors that aren’t supposed to be there. Why would anyone want to be able to recognize these flavors? If you are a brewer, it is important to know when something is negatively impacting the flavor of your beer. If you serve beer, it is important to know that you are serving your patrons the best quality beer, free from imperfections, to give them the best possible experience. What about all the other craft beer drinkers? Should they go through some sort of off flavor training? On the one hand, it is highly beneficial to be able to tell when the your beer in your fridge isn’t fresh anymore and should be tossed, or whether something is wrong with your beer when you go out to bars. On the other hand, once you learn to recognize off flavors, there’s no unlearning what you know. You’ll see (taste?) everything in a whole new light. Certain flavors will just stick out to you, but stay hidden to anyone who hasn’t gone through off flavor training.
I won’t go into too much detail about specific off flavors. Instead I want to focus on some guidelines of the two common places that off flavors become produced: During fermentation, and storage/serving.
Most off flavors are actually normal byproducts of fermentation. If you go to White Labs’ website for example, they will give you the specific amounts of different off flavors that their yeast produce. Depending on the style, some of these off flavors are expected, and even desired. British yeasts will typically have more diacetyl than other yeast strains, and lager yeasts usually produces more acetaldehyde than other yeast strains. Improper techniques can exasperate these flavors far more than they should be, and they will then become detrimental to the beer.
There are other off flavors that can be produced durning production by other sources besides just the yeast. Again, these can be controlled by proper brewing techniques. These are out of a customer’s control, and thankfully, usually not noticed in commercial level brewing, so I won’t detail any of these specific flavors. Homebrewers however, would greatly benefit from studying these further. There are links at the end for further study.
All of the off flavors that can be produced during this stage can be prevented. Anyone who serves beer should be well aware of how to prevent these, as well as anyone who cares about drinking beer the way it’s supposed to be enjoyed.
The most common off flavor in this regard would be oxidation. Oxidation occurs when beer gets in contact with oxygen. Despite being sealed, beer bottles are not air tight and over time, will slowly get more and more oxidized. This is why it’s best to always drink beer fresh. Heat will increase the speed at which oxidation occurs, which is why it is best that beer stays refrigerated as much as possible.
Oxidized beers will develop a variety of different flavors, with papery/cardboard like being the most common. If you don’t understand what I’m talking about, suck on a wet piece of a cardboard box and you’ll get the idea. A little vinous or sherry like flavors can also develop. While these flavors are ideal in a barley wine (explained further here), in average alcohol strength beers, these flavors make the beer a bit unpleasant.
Keep beer out of sunlight, especially if it is a hoppy beer. Fun game: pour an IPA into a clear glass and leave it out in the sun for twenty minutes then drink it. Yeah, that’s what a skunked beer tastes like. The sunlight will literally take elements of the hop compounds in a beer, and convert them into essentially the same compound that gives skunk spray it’s wonderful aroma.
Lastly, if you serve beer from a tap, CLEAN YOUR TAP LINES! Beer has residual sugars and various trace minerals. Failure to clean tap lines means these sugars and minerals begin to coat the interior of the beer line. Once it starts to build up, it begins to harvest bacterias that alter the flavor of the beer. Typically, the flavor will start to become slightly acidic, or sour, and simultaneously becomes a bit buttery. The buttery flavor is from a compound called diacetyl, the souring is from a bacteria known as Pediococcus. To prevent these types of off flavors, it is important to clean your tap lines at least every two weeks! Only flushing your lines with water does not count as cleaning them. Sadly, to many bars around town, this standard sounds over dramatic. Trust me, there is a difference in flavor and aroma when you have a beer from a bar that cleans their tap lines regularly, and one that doesn’t.
For more information on off flavors, this guide from MoreBeer! is very helpful. Otherwise, feel free to ask!